Gaming without your brother

Tag Archives: Xbox

It’s been awhile. I want to say “I’m making awesome video content!” but what’s really happening is I’m constantly checking my Amazon purchases and my Gamefly account to see if all necessary software and hardware will arrive soon so THEN I can start recording awesome video content. In the meantime, I should be writing up a storm on this blog, but alas – holidays always throw me for a lazy loop. But enough of this! On to the bee in my bonnet.

I was browsing Xbox Live accounts online at work today and I realized I needed to not be lame and just drop some points for some non-lame avatar threads. I started with updating my hair (since I chopped it all off a few months ago) and the thought crossed my mind “Maybe it’ll look weird since I have to choose a guy’s haircut to put on my female avatar.” Without much surprise, the hair looks fine on the avatar, so I moved on to updating my pants and shoes to something less frumpy. I opted for some standard shorts that look like what I wear most summer days, and then I realized that there weren’t any shoes that looked like shoes I wear. I then realized that I was only looking at the women’s shoes options. “Ah, makes sense. I did choose the female avatar body. But I bet I can find some shoes I like in the men’s section.” I came across some Oxfords, thought “Perfect!,” and tried to preview them on my avatar.

ENTER GENDER BINARY OPPRESSION. I got an error message telling me “Oops! These shoes are for the other gender” or something very similar to that message. The “Oops!” was definitely there.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not about to protest Microsoft, and I wasn’t distraught for days. If someone has run across this error message before and has subsequently protested Microsoft or was distraught for days – I feel you. Those are appropriate responses. That rejection of how you identify can be really frustrating and even traumatizing. For me, it wasn’t, but I was bummed out, and annoyed at Microsoft’s short-sightedness.

Gender-specific clothing? Really, Microsoft? I just . . . man. What a antiquated thing to code into your social service. Clothes are just clothes! People make avatars to be a cooler version of themselves. I don’t own Oxfords, but I want to, and I want my dang avatar to wear them, because I hate flip flops and clunky tennis shoes. And if I were a dapper butch lesbian, I’d want to have my tie on my avatar and my loafers, ya dig? Microsoft shouldn’t pidgeon-hole people or how they identify. Free the clothes for all, Xbox Live!

Add me if you so desire: lbizz66 (note that the shoes my avatar is currently wearing are not accurately representative of the persona I’d like to project on Xbox Live. Thank you).

Have you run into a bummer like this before? You identify as a dude that loves heels, or a chick that loves ties? Leave a comment, rant against The Machine (Microsoft), and let’s keep our eye on the avatar editor to see if Microsoft figures it out sooner rather than later.

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Credit to flickr user netzkobold

Credit to flickr user netzkobold

Shortly after posting my blog yesterday, I bit the bullet and read a really brief synopsis of the release event. The only thing I can say might be good or bad that I can’t tell yet is the controller re-design. I think the Xbox controller is the most ergonomic and best designed controller in the history of gaming peripherals. Messing with that recipe makes me hesitant, but it looks good so . . . here’s hoping. Coming with Kinect seems cool. I have heard that voice commands, when they work properly (eyeroll), are very fun and really add something to the gaming experience. I also enjoy niche party games like Dance Central, so making Kinect better seems really cool to me. Also, I don’t have the hardware design. Boxy, sure, and bigger (which blows), but kind of utilitarian, and minimalistic, which I love. So hey! I don’t hate everything!

The lack of backwards compatibility is unsurprising to me; upping hardware specs will always eventually lead to that. What was saddening was the complete lack of an ATTEMPT to help gamers get their old content. And for the first time since my brother bought the original Playstation when I was in the third grade, I have a desire to purchase Sony hardware. When it was announced that the PS4 would not be backwards compatible, Sony conceded to their fans and said they would make some cloud space available for gamers old software. When asked point blank if Microsoft would do the same thing in the future, the Microsoft employee said no. ಠ_ಠ

From what I can gather, essentially used games are getting an added fee to play? A small, very quiet, optimistic part of my heart wonders if this will prompt GameStop to reduce used game prices (which frankly, I feel like are still too close to new game prices). Most of me realizes that this is just another way for Microsoft to stuff more green in their pockets. And it’s sad. But I do slightly get it. SLIGHTLY. People are always just trying to get money, and while it’s mostly helping Microsoft (it sounds like), it will slightly help developers. And I’m always all for that.

I really got the saddest bit of news this morning. Indie developers won’t be able to self-publish on the Xbox One. My literal facial expression when reading that can only be described as aghast. The hits of the past few years like Limbo, Braid, Fez, etc. won’t be able to reach an audience from the Xbox One. My heart . . . And I know what you’re going to say, that they have other avenues, it’s good they should just release on PC, etc. etc. etc. It’s undeniable though the audience that those devs reached by going through Xbox Arcade Live was massive. At the end of the day, for me, I recognize that every dev needs to eat, and I want people that are passionately following their dreams to get the most exposure they possibly can. Microsoft just cut off one really wide avenue for devs to be able to do that. A single tear rolls down my cheek.

What does this mean for me? Still nothing, like I highlighted yesterday. I now have a PC gaming rig that I’m in love with, and with games being cheaper through Steam, GOG.com, GamersGate, and other online distributors than new physical discs, buying Xbox games are completely unnecessary  And really, I still have a great 360 that’ll last for awhile, so hopefully I’ll still be able to get in on any Xbox exclusives (I’M LOOKING AT YOU, ROCKSTAR, COUGHREDDEADREDEMPTIONTWOCOUGH). But it is interesting to me the differences between the Xbox One and the PS4. It’s making Sony very tempting to me, if for no other reason than voting with my dollar about how much better I think the PS4 grand entrance/innovations (air quotes, because both are pretty lackluster improvements for supposedly next-gen hardware) were than the Xbox One event.

Rant with me in the comments! I haven’t really read any defense of the Xbox One. I mean, usually you get at least one outlet being like “Now, now, this is actually cool” but pretty much across the board of all the major news outlets I read were disparaging about the poor showing. Do you want to defend? Do you want to fuel the rage? Comment!


Just call me controversial Cathy.

The perhaps most acknowledged/blatant reason is because I don’t have the money to buy whatever they’re selling. But even then, there are probably a lot of fans who are anxiously looking forward to the press event while knowing the won’t be buying this console for another few years at least. Tying into this reason: I just bought my Xbox 360 about a year and a half ago, it’s still in tip-top shape, I’m not replacing it any time soon even if I had the money.

I think my true source of apathy about the whole thing is a) overhype (I’m just a contrary human being so when people say “Be excited about this!” I instantly am not excited) and b) how great can this new hardware be? I highly doubt there will be anything groundbreaking in whatever is coming in this new box. Beefier hardware specs, a Blu-ray player, probably some cool integration features with Windows 8, Windows Media Player, and Windows Phone, but I don’t own any of those products. I think that’s all we’re going to see today. Cooler motion sensing? Great. Not something I have the space to use right now, but on an unexcited level, I can appreciate how that can lead to cooler peripherals/gaming experiences.

Partly this apathy must come from playing more on my PC as well. It’s beefier, games are cheaper, I have plenty of screen real estate, etc. etc. I don’t need a console, although the network is fun for playing with non-PC gaming friends. Also gaming on the couch instead of my office chair.

POST SCRIPT: Whoops, took too long to post this. It’s the Xbox One! Cool name, better than the 720. The depths of my apathy is that I’m not even going to read what they’re saying about it. I haven’t read any hypotheses of what will be in it either. Lazy, lazy, lazy, lazy, lazy.


Having only gotten an Xbox and Xbox Live account in the past year, as well as getting more into PC gaming, and having never really played FPS, I’ve never had to endure the world of online multiplayer. I say endure because the first time I attempted it, I downloaded and played a FtP MMORPG that I could only go so far in, independently. Then it was pretty much required that I join up with some other players to attack a dungeon and defeat a boss for the next storyline quest. But I still felt really newb-tastic and having to actually talk to all these impressive warriors running by me on the dusty road was too intimidating. So I stopped playing, relieved that I wouldn’t develop an addiction because I didn’t want to interact with others online.

I should probably dispel any possible misconceptions now; for the most part, I’m not completely anti-social. True, I don’t do much with people, ever, but when I do, I like to believe I’m fairly easy to talk to and relatable. Thankfully I don’t only talk about video games, and I can read social cues to know when to shut up or when to probe further about someone else’s hobby because they want to talk about it. But for some reason, the faceless, nameless judgment of someone else online is something I’d like to avoid at just about all costs.

So I bought Red Dead Redemption and never tried multiplayer, and started Team Fortress 2 and only played bots and tried out League of Legends and only played bots too. And then I bought Mass Effect 3. And to get the “perfect ending” (which I definitely wanted because I’m that anal retentive), I had to play multiplayer. So, expecting the worst, I logged in and started, and loved it! Co-operative team play with others, no friendly fire, this was my kind of multiplayer! I did get a bad player review from someone, and I’m completely unsure why, and it still really bothers me, but that’s obviously indicative of deeper psychological issues I have, ha. (In my defense it’s my only player review so it looks like I’m a really terrible person to play with because 100% of the people that have rated me, hated me).

AH HUSKS HOLY CRAP HUSKS DIE DIE DIE

AH HUSKS HOLY CRAP HUSKS DIE DIE DIE

With a positive multiplayer experience under my belt, I thought I’d finally give a non-bot run-through of TF2 a try, and surprisingly, everyone was nice there as well. It did prove to be more frustrating as I was dominated most of the games by really good players, but slowly my skills improved and I started setting personal bests with Demoman and I felt pretty good.

This all led up to finally trying RDR multiplayer, so I could start getting some of those multiplayer achievements. And the first time I tried it (months ago), I got wasted often, realized that you could actually roll in the game (I got 99.5% completion in the game without realizing that you could roll your character . . . sad), and got a couple of Xbox Live stranger-friends out of a full weekend of multiplayer. I then lent the game to a friend who just got an Xbox and had no money, and just tried multiplayer again for the second time this weekend. And now I’ve seen the true side of multiplayer that I hear about in CoD, Halo, and other games in the same genre.

I may just be in a generally irritable mood, but there were four out of this world good players who I magically never got reshuffled to be on their team (because I acknowledge that I would have been loving it if they were completely annihilating my enemies, instead of me and my teammates), and I got killed by over and over and over again. The last time I played, I recognized that I was generally getting better and better. This time, I spent most of the session re-spawning and watching myself die.

Despite it all . . . still probably my all-time favorite game.

Despite it all . . . still probably my all-time favorite game.

Then, someone on my own team shot me in the head so they could take my cover spot. What the hell is that about! How rude can you be! I tried to withstand the temptation, but a few rounds later, I had an opportunity to just blow this particular player away and I’m sad to say I took the opportunity to “get even,” which the more multiplayer-educated among you are now laughing because there is no “getting even.” The player simply shot me in the head again, a few rounds later. I then sent a choicely worded and explicit message to the player asking them to stop, submitted a bad player review, and quit because I was so frustrated.

The great thing about having a blog that only a few people read is that you don’t feel so bad when you rant and ramble without purpose. I suppose the purpose is venting, and saying that I suppose multiplayer isn’t all bad, but man . . . Red Dead Redemption multiplayer is highly frustrating. And I’m sure there are many people who would read my TF2 description and say “Really!? What server were you on, the rainbows and butterflies server?” So for the sake of my blood pressure and faith in humanity, maybe I’ll just stick with ME3 multiplayer. And it’s good to try different multiplayer experiences out – if only to confirm that I’m more grateful than not that I can’t play most FPS.

Maximum damage with minimal accuracy. My kind of character.

Maximum damage with minimal accuracy. My kind of character.

Vent your multiplayer frustrations, or share whatever you want about multiplayer. Do you guys hate it or love it? Or you are wiser than I am and realize it’s a mixed bag most of the time?


I return in the midst of what I’m sure is e-rotten fruit being thrown at me and e-boos at being gone so long. When I’m sick, I view playing video games as expending energy, and when I’m sick, I expend zero energy. Also, the apocryphal gaming PC I’ve mentioned before is finally all en route to my apartment (in pieces) and because I’m so excited to do some real PC gaming for the first time ever, consoles and 14” laptop screens are just not holding any appeal for me.

Preeeeetty ugly . . . but cheap!

Preeeeetty ugly . . . but cheap case!

I’ve been thinking a lot about what this is going to mean for my Xbox. My Wii is just collecting dust at this point, which makes me sad, but someday . . . someday I’ll get back to it. Anyway, with Steam sales and Amazon sales, digital distribution is simply the cheapest route for gaming and most games today are on Xbox and the PC. So will my Xbox fall to the wayside as I dedicate my soul to PC gaming only?

My first reaction is no. During the steam sale I almost bought L.A. Noire for $5 (and I should have, really) but something tugging at the back of my mind said “No. Rockstar games are meant to be appreciated with a controller in your hand.” Which, of course I can plug a controller into my PC so . . . really, I should’ve bought it. Damn.

Anyway, there are still some mind blocks telling me that I want to do some things on console and some things on PC. I have heard from multiple sources that the Witcher series, although being recently ported to the Xbox, is far superior still on the PC. But, I’ve always loved lazily turning on my console on a weekend morning and playing some casual action game. I believe the developers of Super Meat Boy or maybe it was Fez, had something to say about that (something that agreed with me, that the feeling of playing on a console is just unbeatable) but as I’m writing this, I’m realizing how silly it sounds for me, personally.

Having bought this on a computer, played on a keyboard, and only recently playing it w/ a controller, I can confirm this is true.

Having bought this on a computer, played on a keyboard, and only recently playing it w/ a controller, I can confirm this is true.

I have my consoles and TV in my room. I’m using my TV as a monitor for my PC, and I can plug in my Xbox controller to play with it on my PC. My experiences are going to be . . . next to the same, on either system. The separation between PC gaming and console gaming will be almost gone, with any differences weighing down the benefits of console gaming. As someone who has only console gamed her entire life, this is a sad realization, not because I think console gaming is superior to PC gaming, but because it is familiar.

I never got into the debates about “which was better” because I think its apples to oranges. There is a clear winner in the graphics and speed department, but I think the nostalgia and cheaper alternative is a valuable side of the argument as well. We’ll see how much I keep using my Xbox, and given the exclusive nature of Wii titles, I’m sure I’ll come back to it to get a Mario or Zelda fix, but I wouldn’t be surprised if PC gaming took over my gaming life. The only things raising any doubt are awesome Xbox Live Arcade game exclusives. Other than that, I may be turning into a PC girl . . . Although I’ll probably never sell it because who knows when the next Red Dead Redemption is coming around, that will be another console-exclusive?

Do you guys PC and console game? Do you have strong feelings one way or the other? Leave a comment, let’s discuss.


The end truly came. I played the Mass Effect 3 Extended Cut DLC last night, and watched all the possible endings. Before starting the final mission, I thought about the finality of what I was about to do. I love the Mass Effect series so, so much, and now it was about to be completely and finally done. I mean, I suppose there could be another spin-off game or something, but I think it would be cheap of Bioware to do that. I hope they’re smart enough not to. Despite what people think of them now, after the ME3 ending fiasco, I think they have enough integrity to walk away gracefully from the series.

I’m torn how to approach this post because I have a lot bouncing around my mindgrapes about the original Mass Effect 3 endings, the game as a whole, the series, and the DLC. Anyway, as I work my way through this: spoilers to come. Feel free to stop reading if you haven’t finished the game or the DLC yet, and want to experience it on your own.

A metaphor, for how Bioware destroyed the ending of this game, much like the Reapers destroyed London.

A metaphor, for how Bioware destroyed the ending of this game, much like the Reapers destroyed London.

I’ll start at the beginning of the turmoil: the original Mass Effect 3 endings. When I finished the first ending (I believe I chose to destroy the reapers [i.e. the “renegade” red option]) I sat there in stunned disbelief. Did I really just hear three options that all had essentially the same consequences? As I played through the next two endings, my disgust grew. All three endings were next to identical, with a few minor animation differences, and a big ball of light changing from blue, to red, to green, depending on your choice. I could probably have swallowed the actual conversation from the spirit child douche, and his patchy explanations, but I couldn’t take that Bioware had so lazily slapped together some ending sequences.

To be completely honest, I was disappointed, but not mortified like so many other Mass Effect series lovers. I thought “Hm, this is a poor ending, but whatever.” What bothers me more about the ending as a whole are the inconsistencies. How is your crew on the Normandy when they were all making the frakking assault on Earth with you? How the HELL is Anderson on the Citadel with you? “Oh, I was right behind you.” B.S. sir. B. freaking. S. Those are my two biggest gripes, although if really pressed, I could think of some more.

"LULZ! I made it to the beam too, Shepard! What, like it was hard?" -Anderson, that piece of crap

“LULZ! I made it to the beam too, Shepard! What, like it was hard?” -Anderson, that piece of crap

And that’s why this DLC was still disappointing to me. I actually appreciate the gesture from Bioware, to try to appease fans at all. And some of the extra explanation from the spirit child devil was helpful, but overall the DLC was still kind of a patch job which took away from its value. Like why did we need a cut scene of Admiral Hackett recognizing that Shepard made it into the Citadel? And back to one of my biggest gripes, why couldn’t he tell two people went through the beam!? Perhaps to prove that it wasn’t a dream, like the indoctrination theorists were claiming.

My first wish would’ve been for Bioware to confirm the indoctrination theory, just for those fans that put so much thought and time into it, despite the flaws in the theory. My second wish would’ve been for the company to just put out a Q&A of the leader writer and designer, or whoever else was responsible for the holes in the plot and the inconsistencies, to address questions from fans. They said they were surprised by the fan outrage, which to me implies that they thought their ending was perfectly reasonable. Explain to me how it was; defend your case. Maybe you’ll convince me.

At the end of the day, it felt as if Bioware was handing out buckets to scoop water out of the bottom of the boat, instead of patching holes. But that might be the best we could hope for, without too much overhaul that would’ve proven cost prohibitive for the company. You know what, though? Despite all of my gripes and grievances, I started my second run through of the game as soon as I finished the first. I plan on playing tonight, even though I finished all the DLC endings last night.

The real bottom line is this: I love this game. I love the gameplay mechanics, I love the voice acting, I love the dialogue, I love all the characters, I love the terrible decisions you have to make, I love that even on my third run through, I get choked up when Thessia falls to the Reapers. I still get choked up when Mordin sacrifices himself to cure the genophage. And I still cheer like a kid when I run and butt slide over a box while I’m running to and from cover (because seriously, it’s so bad-a). I love modding the weapons and I love getting new powers with every run through. I love the cut scenes, like watching the mother of all thresher maws, Kalros, choking out that Reaper on Tuchanka like a boss.

"OH NO YOU DI-IN'T. YOU DI-IN'T STEP IN MY HOUSE!" -Kalros, to Reaper

“OH NO YOU DI-IN’T. YOU DI-IN’T STEP IN MY HOUSE!” -Kalros, to Reaper

Mass Effect 2 was where I started this series, after a co-worker highly recommended it to me. It was the first series I started on my brand new Xbox, the first system I had purchased without my brother, and the first series I had tried without him. Don’t get me wrong, I wish he played so we could dominate multiplayer and we could have more immersive discussions about the series (although he patiently hears all my ramblings about it without playing it), but for the first time, I have a little bit of ownership with Mass Effect, and that makes it a pretty special series to me.

I heard one fan say she could never play Mass Effect ever again because the endings had soured her opinion much. I don’t think an ending of a series as epic as Mass Effect could ever erase all the wonderful moments from all three games that have created such an immersive and beautiful universe to explore and save, again and again and again.


Castle Crashers was released in 2008 but went on sale for cheap (cheaper than usual) two weeks ago (and really probably had before now but I just never noticed). My brother had recommended it to me as a fun game when he bought it ages ago and he told me about it being on sale so I figured now was the time to take action and finally give it a whirl.

Look at those bad-a knights!

Look at those bad-a knights!

Right off the bat, how can you not love this game? The cartoon-y style by Dan Paladin is endearing and entertaining. The music too is classic questing music with big booms and trumpets and all that you want to hear behind you when swinging a sword and casting a spell. Aside from the aesthetics alone, the animation is lovable. These little bad-a’s aren’t just running around in 2D, they’re glaring and smoochin’ ladies and choppin’ heads. It’s almost dark, but not quite, and that makes it that much more fun.

As I started playing, I realized how static the gameplay was. I was just supposed to be mashing these buttons for how many stages? Sure, there are combos to unlock, and I will say this is one of the few games that I actually take advantage of magical abilities (I’m usually a fan of pure brute force: never use block, never level agility, never press brake), but for the most part,  jump and slash. I’m playing through the first time as the Red Knight, so I’m really just busting heads in with maces and blunt objects. I even tried to branch out and try the other mini games offered (the Arena and All You Can Quaff) but alas, those required even less thought than the game itself! You level up every two levels at least but usually every level. Bosses rarely require anything special, just a few more stat points and a little less jumping right into their attacks, and then you can easily win.

And then last weekend, I was sitting around, thinking how much effort jumping into any of my puzzle or RPG games would take. I found myself looking for something that would take no thought, that would give me a sense of accomplishment when really there was nothing required of me. And I started up Castle Crashers. How can I fault a game for delivering exactly what it advertises? A side-scrolling beat-em-up game that only cost me $6 and makes me laugh with subtle animations and goofy bosses. Sometimes you need that in the middle of games that make you cry or pee your pants in fright or think so hard you rage quit. Castle Crashers is truly relaxing gaming, and I love it for giving me that.

Conclusion?

PLAY THIS GAME!

Need to make a better, solidified graphic for this conclusion . . . but I like the joy on this kid’s face.